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Archive for the ‘Square Foot Gardening’ Category

SVB Moth

Tonight whilst meandering out in my garden, I came fact-to-face with my nemesis, the beast that every year since I have gardened has laid its wicked spawn that killed my beloved butternut squash three times. I have never laid eyes upon this evil vermin, only its slimy, icky, destructive progeny. Tonight I saw it, and I shuddered. (Cue Jaws-themed inpending doom music):

It was the Squash Vine Moth, vile mother of the evil, insidious, pestilent, slimy, icky, groddy . . . SQUASH VINE BORER!!!! (high-pitched, hysterical female scream)

I steeled myself and faced my foe, determined and unafraid. I bravely considered my plan of attack, thinking, Um, but first I need to Google this and make sure what this critter is . . .

So I took a quick detour to find out if this indeed was my bitter enemy. Well, to be honest, since it was lurking out amongst my yellow summer squash, I thought it might be my other enemy that decimated my yellow squash last summer, the evil Squash Bug. I Googled “Squash Bug,” and nope, wasn’t it. Then I Googled Squash Vine Borer, and yup, thar she was in all her wicked glory, looking just like the be-ach out there squatting upon one of my yellow squash leaves.

Now I knew who my enemy was, and I was ready to form a plan to destroy her. But first, I wanted to get a picture of my own. I mean, y’all have to see her, right? So I got my camera, went back outside to my yellow squash plant and told her, Smile, because you’re about to die! Mwahahahaha!  Then I snapped her picture. She actually was a pretty creature, and I loved her vivid red and green coloring, but her beauty wasn’t gonna save her. She had to die.

Then I had to decide how I was going to kill her. To be honest, I really hate killing anything, even if it is threatening to kill my plants. Must be because I was a Buddist in another life – or was that Catholic – or maybe nudist – uh, oh never mind. I just hate killing anything, even pests – it always makes me feel guilty, no matter how destructive the critter. So I grabbed a jar, placed it under the leaf the moth was on, and shook the leaf. The SVB moth tumbled in with nary a struggle. Too frickin’ easy. I screwed on the lid and then placed the jar in the grass while I decided what to do.

I decided to plant the datura I bought at Natural Gardener this past weekend. Yes, I know I just planted a bunch of moonflower seeds, but I realized they weren’t the same ones that grow out at Leb Shomea where I went last summer. Natural Gardener had datura (which is also known as moonflower), and I knew this was it, and that was what I wanted. I know I’ll be very happy with the moonflowers that are growing from the seeds I planted, but I really did want what grows out at Leb Shomea.

SVB Moth in Jar

So, since I still didn’t know how I was going to kill the SVB moth, I dug a hole and planted the datura. Then I checked all my squash plants for any more SVB moths, gave them a second, and more thorough, dusting of diatomaceous earth (I’d given them all a little dusting the previous night since I figured SVB season was coming upon me quickly), cleaned up a little around the patio, grabbed the jar with the moth and went inside to take a picture of it in the jar.

Then I considered how to kill it. I thought about putting water in the jar or flushing it down the toilet, but that seemed sort of a cruel, prolonged death by drowning. So I decided to take it back outside, shake it out on the patio and then stomp it to death with my foot. A relatively quick death for the moth. I stomped it three times to make sure it was good and dead, more so it wouldn’t be suffering than because of any enraged venom I have toward the SVB moth and its gross progeny. I didn’t feel great about doing it, but I knew it was either the moth or my squash and I ain’t given up my squash that easily this time. So the SVB moth had to die, and so will any others I lay my eyes on.

I hope that’s the only SVB moth that lights upon my squash, but I’m ready to do battle if need be. I want my squash, damnit, and the SVB ain’t gettin’ any this year!

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My Butternut and Delicata Squash

Once again this year I am trying to grow beans and squash. The first year, as an experiment, I planted some black-eyed peas in a container. They came up and produced a few pods, but not much. Last year I didn’t have much success with the Kentucky Wonder beans and bush/soup beans that I planted, nor with the yellow squash I planted, and if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know all about my ongoing struggle with butternut squash and the dreaded, evil SVB (Squash Vine Borer) since I started my garden in 2008. And last year I tried planting delicata squash with the butternut squash and it never came up at all.  So you’d think that I’d just give it up, this being my third year of gardening, and the third time to try beans and squash.

But the third time is a charm, and this year will be different, I have determined. It already has been different. This year I bought bean innoculant for all my beans, and instead of coming up all puny and anemic like they did last year, they have all come up thick and rich and green and, in the case of the pole beans (Kentucky Wonder and Scarlett Runner), they are eager to climb whatever they can! I installed a net trellis in the raised bed with yellow summer squash and the pole beans on the back row, and for the beans in the row in front of them, I set up two bean teepees from  branches I saved last year when I cut off some really low branches on my Bradford Pear tree. And so the pole beans have plenty to climb up on, and they are going to town.

Bean Teepee

I had also foolishly planted Scarlett Runner beans (from the bean seeds I had left from the Hummingbird Garden) right in front of the yellow squash, and I later realized that if I set up bean teepees with the Scarlett Runners it could block sun from the squash. I know beans don’t transplant well, and I didn’t really have a good place to transplant them anyway. But I really hated to pull them out and throw them away – it seemed like such a waste (I also hate to thin plantings for the same reason). So as their vines get longer, I am successfully training them to go up on the bean teepees on each side of them.

As of this writing, I also have three healthy plants each of yellow squash, butternut squash, and ta-dah! – delicata squash!  Not sure why the delicata came up this year when it didn’t last year; I used the same packet of seeds as I did this year, but in any case, I’m please that they all came out. And all of the squash plants have tiny flower buds on them!

Of course, now that my bean and squash babies have survived the initial “birthing” process, my thoughts turn to pests – how do I prevent them, or at least, keep them from getting out of hand? Last year I never got any yellow squash because I got squash bug and noticed it too late, and I did have another attack of SVB on the butternut squash, but fortunately it only got one plant and I was able to save the other one and kept a sharp eye out for any SVB eggs. The borage I planted may have also helped, but this year I didn’t plant borage right in front of either beds that contain squash, though there is borage nearby.

Yardener.com offers several solutions to the dreaded SVB, one of which I’ve already done, which is to use Garlic Barrier to repel the moths that lay the eggs that hatch the larvae that burrow into the the vine that destroys the plant (yes, this sounds like an annoying children’s song). Another solution I might also try is to dust the plant with diatomaceous earth to prevent any larvae from entering the stem, although what it will really do is slice those little suckers like glass (Bwahahahaha), which yeah, certainly prevents them from entering the stem! 

I could also use row cover, but it’s such a pain in the you-know-what to lift it up, check yer plants, or harvest, or whatever and then cover it back up again and seal all the edges. And I’m too lazy to do all that. So I’ll keep using the Garlic Barrier as repellent, and try dusting with diatomaceous earth and keeping a good eye on my plants.

I just did a little research on bean pests and diseases, and prevention of pests and diseases for beans does not seem to be as cut and dried as it seems to be for squash.  It makes me tired to think about it. And I realize that I probably over-planted beans. I kept with Mel B.’s (of Square Foot Gardening fame) recommendation of planting 9 pole beans and 8 bush beans per square foot, and even for one square it just really seems like too much, plus I planted not just one square of pole beans and one of bush beans, but 6 squares of pole beans and 8 squares of bush beans, and this doesn’t even count all the runner beans I planted in the Hummingbird Garden! Jeez Loueeze, even if all my bean plants survive and thrive, I’ll have more beans than I can possibly ever eat! Oh well. Guess I’ll have to share my bounty with family, friends and neighbors!

However, I do wonder if crowding the beans like I have is good for them. I wonder if I should thin them out some, but again, I hate the thought of thining them out. Well, anyway, like I said, it just makes me tired to think about. Guess I’ll join Scarlett O’Hara and say, “Tomorrow is another day.” I’ll worry about it then.

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The new hummingbird garden

A couple of weeks ago, when I went to my fave gardening shop in the whole universe, Natural Gardener, I was so proud of myself for showing great restraint in only buying compost, seaweed extract, bean innoculant and . . . seeds for a hummingbird garden. Didn’t buy a plant one, even though they were bursting at the seams with the usual spring multitude of veggies, herbs, and flowers. Went home all smug and self-satisfied, thinking, Yes, I will just plant seeds this year, mostly from what I saved last year — how thrifty is that? No buying upteen jillion dozen veggie transplants, flowering plants and shrubs, no making any square foot beds, cuz now I have 7 (!) beds, and I will not till up any more flower beds . . .

Later I looked at my little seed packet for a hummingbird garden — a lovely array of scarlet runner beans, zinnias and nasturtiums, and all in my favorite color – RED! Then the thought — where the heck am I gonna plant these? When I bought them, I had some vague thought that I’d plant them somewhere in the back of my flower bed. However, by the time I got around to thinking about planting them, I’d already planted sunflower seeds and zinnia seeds from seeds I’d saved from last year’s multi-colored zinnias. Hum.

I could have interspersed the seeds in little places around the flower bed, but I really liked the idea of having a brilliant flame of red color all in one little spot. I’d also been thinking about putting in some more rosemary, thyme, lavendar and maybe some other herbs somewhere. Hum.

My eyes fell to a spot of yardage between the veggie bed closest to my patio and the new bed where I used Natural Gardeners’ convenient Mel’s Mix and planted more cilantro than I could ever possibly consume. Originally I had thought about turning this into a deeper raised bed for growing root vegetables, but there were other places I could conceivably put that, and I could even turn one of my raised beds on the other side of the house into a deeper bed. Hum.

Also, I noticed that the grass from the fence to about a foot out was pretty much dead — probably a consequence of our deadly dry summer last year and our hard freezes this winter. How conveeenient.

So last Tuesday night (in the friggin’ dark, no less), I decided to start ripping out the dead grass. In my madness I figured that would commit me to just having to put in a new flower bed. (I’m a Gemini, ya know, with the archetypal twin nature, and the naughty part of me is always plotting against the part of me that wants to be logical, common-sensical and have more time to sleep instead of tending plant beds day and night).

In the light of early evening the next day, a foot of bare earth next to the fence, I realized I was indeed committed (or ought to be committed to the State Hospital). I finished the dirty deed Friday night (again in the friggin’ dark).

Actually, I enjoyed the whole process of ripping out grass and literally getting my hands dirty. There is something so satisfying about tearing out grass by the root (I especially like ripping out my damn St. Augustine grass for some reason) and reaching one’s hands into the rich hummus of earth seeing (even in the dark) and feeling (as it gets darker) all the various components that make up this hummus — grass, leaves, rock, worms, rolly-pollys, grubworms, etc. (don’t worry, I wear gardening gloves when I rip out grass, so nothing yucky touches my bare hands). Nothing like it. It speaks to my inner child who loves digging in the dirt — or perhaps, more likely, to my inner madwoman.

Saturday I got up to get some herbs to plant along with the hummingbird seeds. As much as I love Natural Gardener, I really didn’t want to trudge out to BFE (that’s Big Frickin’ Egypt, y’all – I try to keep it a little clean here – a little) Oak Hill where it’s located so I decided to try a new place closer to me that I’ve heard about ever since I moved to deep South Austin: It’s About Thyme.

While IAT doesn’t have everything Natural Gardener does, it does have a nice selection of plants. And I went nuts, just frackin’ nuts. I not only bought rosemary, thyme, lavendar and basil (to grow with my asparagus and tomatoes), I bought some more strawberry plants, Mexican feather grass, and as a little treat for my kitty babies, some nice healthy catnip and wheat grass. Basically, I wound up spending over $60 that I never would have spent if I’d just stuck to my original plan of no more flower beds and just planting seeds this spring. Oh well.

Oh, and, I remembered I wanted to plant some moonflowers. I’ve been lusting after having moonflowers in my garden since a guy I briefly dated last summer loaned me his book by Scott Ogden, The Moonlit Garden. I fell madly in love with Ogden’s descriptions of moon gardens and the moonflowers which are an important part of them. Then I spent several days at a retreat last summer at Leb Shomea House of Prayer near the coast in Kenedy, TX (I’m not even Catholic or particularly religious, but this is a truly wonderful place to spend silent retreat), and big white and purple moonflowers were everywhere, and yes, they only open at night. Their scent is truly heavenly and out-of-this world. This sealed my love.

Moonflower bed

So yes, I wanted to plant some moonflowers. I went to Home Depot last week to pick up some mulch, and I thought, “I wonder if they have any moonflower seeds. If they do, then I’m definitely gonna plant ’em.” Right then I turned around, and – There. They. Were. Surely this was a Divine Sign, right? Yes, surely it was God’s Will that I plant moonflowers. I bought two packs of seeds.

Then, this past weekend, even though I was gravely ill from pollen allergies (OK, so I exaggerate), I went out and ripped up another, though smaller, plot of St. Augustine grass, which decided to be a real bear about being torn out this time, and planted my moonflower seeds. Unfortunately it takes 2 weeks for them to germinate (2 weeks! I can’t stand it!). Well, I just have to be patient and bide my time, which all good gardeners must learn to do.

But really, now, two new flower beds? Especially after digging up extra beds for all my berry bushes? Yes, they’re small, but that’s two new beds I have to water, watch for pests and diseases, spray (organically, of course) for any pests and diseases I see, etc. And I have the main flower bed and all the veggie beds to tend to. And I planted corn and amaranth in the last veggie bed to be planted. And I have my new-courtesy-of-Mother-Nature-and-my-goofiness compost tomato bed. Not to mention that while my backyard is full of life and color, my front yard looks like crap, and I often forget to water my plants inside. And not to mention that there are other things I’d like to do. Like spend more time with my sweetie. Like have a social life. Like get to creating poetry and art again. Like, well, you know, have a life. But I love gardening so darn much — two years ago when I first started out on this journey, I had no idea I would love it this much. But I do.

Clearly I’m mad. Somebody needs to stop me, quick. Take me to Gardeners’ Anonymous. Hell, I probably need to go into gardening rehab. Maybe someone needs to have me commited to the State Hospital. Because I have totally lost my frickin’ mind.

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My Spring Flower Garden

And yes, I am woefully behind in posting! My apologies, I’ve been kinda busy. Not to fear, however; yours truly has been feverishly (well, OK, maybe not that feverishly) working on her spring garden! However, without much work and a lot of spring rain, relatively cool temperatures (for Texas) and sun, my flower garden has just exploded with color and beauty. The pic above doesn’t do my garden justice, but you get the drift.

The veggie garden is, of course, underway. I’ve been pulling out plants from my fall/winter garden that were going to seed and I’ve been prepping the raised beds. This weekend I look forward to planting summer lettuce, bok choy, and basil, and will be giving it the old college try again for yellow squash and butternut squash (and try to be even more vigilant for the evil Squash Vine Borer) and all kinds of beans (got bean innoculant this time, so I hope my bean crop this year will be much better than last’s).

And, yes, my famous Malabar Spinach is in full swing, with two seedlings coming up in the Malabar bed, and three coming up in seedling pots. I’ll probably be giving a couple of plants to loved ones this year because even one plant just explodes into hundreds of delicious and beautiful leaves, and I don’t need five plants just for me! I’ve also got a bunch of volunteer Thai Basil coming up in the spot in front of the Malabar bed where I’d planted the basil last year, so I won’t have to plant any of that myself, thanks to Mama Nature’s help!

Closeup of Compost Tomatoes

What about tomatoes, you ask? After all, it is a perennial summer favorite of just about every gardener worth their salt, you say. Well, funny you should ask! Earlier this spring, I moved my compost pile but instead of bagging up the compost that I had in the old pile, I forgot about it and left it where it was. I had previously noticed that there were several small weeds growing in the old pile, but last weekend looked at it more carefully, and low and behold – in addition to what are truly weeds, I have about 25 tomato seedlings popping up out of the old compost pile! While I don’t remember it, I must have thrown chopped tomato with some seeds into my compost, because these are almost undoubtedly tomato plants! I’m very excited about that, and it spares me from having to actually buy any tomato plants.

However, I’m not sure what kind of tomatoes I’m going to have – these could be seeds from last year’s crop, or regular-sized or roma tomatoes I bought from the store, or maybe even a mixed array. It will be interesting to see what comes up! My mom also gave me a hanging cherry tomato plant for Easter, so it looks like my tomato bases have been more than covered!

Also, I have just planted several berry plants along my fence near the main flower bed. My sweetie (who is also a gardener) gave me two blackberry plants and two blueberry plants for Valentine’s Day – best Valentine’s gift EVAR (well, for a gardener like me, anyway). I waited until after Easter to plant them, because we kept getting freezing, or close to freezing, temps late into what I call our Texas spring (which usually starts in February). I also planted another blueberry plant I already had, and I finally planted my Goji Berry plant that I’ve had in a pot for about 3 or 4 years now. All of the berry plants are doing well in their new locales, and I look forward to having various berries later this summer.

Speaking of berries, I was amazed to find that most of the strawberry plants from last year survived our many hard winter freezes despite me not covering them up. I replanted them in a big stainless steel tub utilizing the Lasagna Gardening method (more on that later). And I already have several strawberries ripening! Very exciting!

And finally, I have some asparagus crowns that I need to plant this weekend as well. These were also a Valentine’s gift from my sweetie. However, I’ve had the crowns so long that they’ve already sprouted a coupla stalks! I could have planted them earlier, but since they are a long-living, perennial veggie, I’ve had a difficult time deciding where to put them. Finally decided I’d put them in my little raised bed next to the house where I’d planted butternut squash last year. I’ll probably plant either lettuce or baby carrots with it, or I might transplant a couple of tomato plants from the compost pile, since tomato and asparagus are suppose to be excellent companions (though lettuce and carrots do well with it too). Of course, I’ll have to wait a year or two before I can enjoy my harvest, but that’s OK. I do love me some asparagus!

Well, I guess that’s about it for my little update. I am going to try harder to keep this blog updated more frequently, though, you know – promises, promises! But I will try. In any case, if you’ve never been here before, please check out my other postings, cuz you might find some useful gardening and cooking info, at least I hope you do!

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Egads — has it really been 3 months since I last posted?! My friend Ms. E enquired if there would be another Zippy post with the advent of my fall gardenings, and I kinda hemmed and hawed about that. Then I just got a comment on a post from last fall, and I thought, ya know, I’d best get with the program, cuz my adoring public (all one or two of them) is gonna think I quit gardening or something. And no, you can rest assured that I have not quit gardening — far from it!

In fact I spent almost elebenty elebenty something dollars (fer those of you who know lolspeak, you know that means much monies) this past weekend at my fave gardening place in the whole world, Natural Gardener. I went absaluttely frackin’ nuts. I loooove cilantro, and I wound up buying so much that I filled my newest 2×4 SFG with it. Of course, I never intended to fill that SFG with cilantro — I’d even bought all kinds of greens to go in same new SFG. Instead, I had to find room somewhere in my already other bulging beds to plant the greens — geesh! But in truth my little heart is pleased to have so much cilantro. Plus it’s a good detoxing herb! So, black beans with cilantro, cilantro soup, cilantro pesto, salsa with cilantro, whatever else can come with cilantro, here I come!

I was also pleased to find Mel’s Mix at Natural Gardener, already mixed up. Cost me $15.95 each (over $30 total) for two 2 cubic foot bags, but man, was it worth it! All I had to do was dump it in my SFG, spread it out and plant my cilantro, and I was good to go! As I told the guy at NG who carried my bags, “I’m so glad y’all have this now, cuz it’s a pain in the butt to make!”

So if any of you Central Texas SFG gardeners are tired of making yer own Mel’s Mix or yer a newbie who’s intimidated at the thought of making it, get yerself out to Natural Gardener and get you some already made! It’s expensive, but the time (and the back) you save making it are indeed worth the dinero, trust me! It’s also environmentally friendly, made with coir instead of peat moss, which spared me any ethical dilemmas like I went through last year.

Anyway, that’s about it fer now. I do have to add that as soon as September rolled around things cooled off and we finally got bunches of rain, which did wonders for my poor little veggies and flowers. Even my tomato plant came back to life, and I really thought it was done with. Now I’ve got bunches of new little cherry tomatoes on the vine. And my malabar became even more of a monster than it was last year, so much so that I’m having trouble keeping the trellis it’s growing on from falling completely over! And I have more regular basil and Thai basil than you can comprehend — pesto, anyone? I’m going to have to give my friends some before the first freeze to the year gets them.

So that’s it for the time being — I’ll try to post at least a little more frequently, and get y’all some pix of the fall garden. Till then, hasta la vista bebe!

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I finally shows you mah greens!

I finally shows you mah greens!

Yes, my greens are not a fig newton of my imagination — they really do exist! I just finally got around to showing them to you. The greens in the pix above are just my mustard greens on the left, and my bok choy on the right — the photo doesn’t show you my kale or the spinach. My other photos showing you the whole enchilada weren’t too hot, so this is all I gots to show ya.

However, you ain’t missin’ much as far as the spinach is concerned — it really has not done very well at all in my SFG bed. It’s just been very, very puny. Not sure why. Maybe it needs more direct sunlight. But the others have done quite well, and have provided me with some really good eatin’. Mustard greens are one of my big faves, and I started eating those suckers as soon as they were just big enough to pick. Then the bok choy sprang into action. That’s really good for stirfries, and I’ve used them often for that. The kale is pretty good too. Kale use to be my fave before I discovered the spicy pinch of the mustard greens, but it still runs just right behind the mustard greens in the favorite greens column. In any case, I’ve discovered that, like the malabar, these greens are very easy to grow — just water them a couple times a week and that’s about it. I have been putting light cover on them during our freezes, though since they’re winter greens they’re suppose to be pretty freeze-hardy. But other than a little green worm that was chomping on my bok choy that I found and removed, I haven’t had much problem.

Sadly, the malabar spinach got nipped by our relatively cold weather here in Austin, TX. We don’t have very harsh winters here, and I was really hoping that if I kept it covered during freezes it would weather the cold OK, since it’s a perennial in its native countries of India and Indonesia, but nope, it wasn’t buying it. It just got too dang cold. First the leaves got all spotty, then some of the leaves started getting yellow and withering up. Then I left for Christmas to go to my mom’s, and I left things uncovered, hoping the one freeze predicted while I was gone would be mild enough to spare the malabar. It was either that or have everything covered and blocked from the sun all week, which probably would have been worse for everything I had outside.

When I got back, everything else was OK, but both the malabar and the rest of my basil were just decimated. It broke my little gardenin’ heart. It hurt so much to see the withered, yellow and black mottled malabar leaves that I just cut the whole thing back to the mother vine and a few children vines coming out of it. I’ll post a pic  of it next time. I figured I’d lose the basil, since with each freeze I lost more bushes, even though I kept it covered. But I was really hoping the malabar would keep.

I’m betting, however, that it will come back in the spring. It will be an interesting experiment to see if it does. I was also able to harvest some seeds that I think I will try to plant in pots in the spring. If they take and the main mother malabar comes back, I will probably give the babies away as gifts, since malabar is so easy to grow and so tasty to eat, and I just like to share. I also still have the other sister malabar plant in the pot. I’m going to plant that in the ground this spring. I’ve kept it inside during freezes, so it’s still going, but the leaves are very small, and probably not ready for eating. Some leaves got mottled too even with keeping it outside in just cold, but not freezing weather. I don’t think malabar likes cold very much! Anyway, I hope with either the mother malabar, or its sister in the pot, or with babies sown in the spring, I’ll have more malabar. If not, there’s still Natural Gardener, where I got the originals! I just really love the malabar, and have really missed not having it, stir-fried with onion or tucked into a yummy cheese omelet. But spring will be here before ya know it (especially in Central TX), so I’m looking forward to more malabar soon!

In any case, it’s just been great to walk out to my little SFGs for greens whenever I want them, rather than paying big bux for them at Whole Paycheck. And they don’t go to waste either — I pick what I need and leave the rest. And I still have quite a bit left. That should tide me over til I plant some more greens and veggies for the spring. I’m already starting to think about more SFGs to plant and what I will plant in them.

Well, it’s getting late and I’m gettin tuckered out, but I just wanted to show you my greens to prove they really do exist! But before I go, I just want to share with you a simple recipe I use as a wonderful sauce for my greens:

Miso-Tahini Sauce/Dressing

1/2 cup mellow white miso, with just enough water to make a medium paste (not too thick, not too thin)
1/2 cup tahini
Juice from 1/2 a lemon, if desired

Mix together and pour over yer greens. It’s very easy, very tasty, not just on greens, but on any veggies, on beans, on grains, in stir fries, etc., and you can make many variations.  You can also increase the portions to make more sauce. It will keep in the refridgerator about a week. I often add grated ginger to taste, and I’ve also been doing a lower fat version with a tablespoon or so of tahini and a little more miso. I have also mixed it with a tumeric/coconut oil sauce. For the tumeric/coconut oil sauce you mix one tsp tumeric with one tsp coconut oil and a pinch of black pepper. Once you mix that together, add it to the Miso-Tahini sauce. Yum! Plus the tumeric-coconut oil sauce can help prevent cancer! Use ginger and you’ve got a potent and delicious anti-cancer sauce! Just be careful not to spill it on yer clothes — the tumeric does create a nice yellow stain, but I doubt you want to have a nice yellow stain on yer nice clothes.

I can’t take complete credit for the Miso-Tahini sauce. I actually riffed on it from a recipe from Austin’s own Casa de Luz  macrobiotic restaurant (one of the best restaurants ever — who knew you could make food so healthy and so delicious!) 

Anywho, that’s all fer tonight folks! Hope yer New Year is goin’ swell, and I’ll see ya next time!

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This morning, whilst beginning my day at ye olde soul-sucking job, I was, of course, cruising the Internet instead of working (“Bad Zippy, Bad Girl!”). Salon.com happens to be one of the sites I visit throughout the day, even though I often get annoyed by much of Salon’s whiny intellectuals skeptical over any damn thing that can’t be easily grasped by the five senses and overly earnest liberal do-gooders who would as soon flagellate themselves as to throw away a single plastic bag. See, once in my young life I tried to be a whiny intellectual but decided I’d have more fun being a dang fool enjoying the heck out of life. I’m even known to talk to the Big Dude/Dudette in the Sky a lot, too, though I’ve come to have little use for religion. I’ve also in my young life been a liberal do-gooder flagellating myself, but that’s no fun either, and, well, life is short.

Unfortunately, my verbage isn’t, so let me wind up my wind-baggedness and wind my way around to my points. However, before you castigate me as some Texas redneck sitting on the banks of the Colorado scratching my fat arse, lemme tell ya, I do engage in critical thinking from time to time, I do recycle, I love animals and don’t eat em (well except for a fishy or two now and then), I try to do good to my fellow sentient beings (and often fail at the task), and I pretty much vote Democrat, so there. It’s just that Salon gets a little too carried away with itself, and sometimes the writers and the readers get either pretty dang mean-spirited or self-flagellating, more so in the last several years. Sometimes I just have to quit reading it for a while, but I usually come back, at least to scan the blurbs on the home page, read Keef and his K Chronicles (I love that dude), check on Carol Lay’s wacky alternate universe, read the beloved Opus and occasionally see if Cary Tennis’ advice is poetically spot-on or just wordy and has no point. Oh ya, and I read Stephanie Z’s movie critiques, cuz usually she is right on in her reviews.

Anywho, so I’m reading Salon, and find that they have instituted a nifty little feature series called Pinched: Tales From An Economic Downturn and today’s article is on growing yer own recession garden. You can read it right here. It’s a great article, about how the author decided to quit giving Whole Paycheck so much of his paycheck and started a garden to save money, and discovered its many faceted joys, other than saving money. I loved it.

Then I started reading the reader comments. Ugh, the whiny intellectuals started on their negative rants early this a.m.!  (Cue whiny, intellectual nasily voice): It’s too expensive, it’s too much work, you don’t really save any money, you people who are gardening are idiots fer trying and yer idiocy is polluting the gene pool yada yada yada ad nauseum.

Well, ya bet yer pal Ms. Zippy got in on the action! I don’t often post to forums, but gardening and self-sufficient living has become such a passion for me that I just had to put in my two cents and let peeps know that not only is it not that expensive, it’s also not that difficult, especially if you try some of the less conventional techniques such as SFG, lasagna gardening, Mittleider gardening and even cheap hydroponics! That, and start out with some stuff that’s easy to grow, and save seeds from produce and bulk beans and grains ya buy at Wholieristic Than Thou Foods or yer local organic food source.

I don’t want to reiterate the whole post in this here blog, but in future blog posts I want to expand on the things I said in the Salon post. (If ya wanna read in its entire, click here).

One of the main purposes of this blog (besides letting me ramble relentlessly, unfettered, and unhinged) is to show you, dear reader, that it is possible to do things to live more self-sufficiently, such as gardening, and it is possible to do it at a fairly low cost and fairly easily.

That’s not to say it isn’t a challenge at times (wait til my heart-breaking post coming up on the resurgence of the evil terrorist squash vine borer in my beloved butternut squash), but it is rewarding. To enjoy one’s own basil in one’s own homemade pesto is sublime, to eat one’s beautiful, easy-to-grow and prolific Malabar spinach, stir-fried in olive oil with onions is divine. And the fun I’ve had watching my green babies pop their little heads out of the soil and grow with a vengeance, and encountering various critters such as geckos crawling over the Malabar and eating bugs, and frogs making little dens in my potted plants, is worth any effort I’ve put into these endeavors. I’ve just gone nuts over gardening, I can’t hep it!

And while I’m certainly no expert, you get to tag along with me on this blog and see how I conduct this experiment in self-sufficient living, learn from my mistakes and get the advantage of some of the research I have done. Of course, you’ve already witnessed some of my experiments and challenges, but I will continue to do more experiments, do more research, and post on all of that so that you can learn too, maybe avoid some of my mistakes and find an easier path to self-sufficient living.

Stay tuned for future posts – coming up soon: yes, we’re gonna get to the promised posting on the fall greens I’ve started – mustard, kale, bok choy and spinach, and they’re already taking off (dadgum good thing my fave veggies are greens)! We’ll also have the heart-rendering, tearjerker post on the evil squash vine borer, of course. And yes, I have completed my experiment on chia-brown rice bread and have come up with a yummy, wheat-free recipe that tastes (to me anyway) like whole wheat bread, and is great for a gluten-free or wheat-free diet.

So tune in, don’t drop out and keep those comments and emails coming – I love to hear from ya!

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